Handmaidens of the Patriarchy: Anti-Feminist Complicity across Cultures (sponsored by the Coalition of Women in German)
Modern Language Association Convention
January 6–9, 2022 Washington, DC
“Ordinary, said Aunt Lydia, is what you are used to. This may not seem ordinary to you now, but after a time it will. It will become ordinary.” -Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (p. 34)
From Bertha’s sacrifice of utopia for wealth in Ludwig Tieck’s Eckbert the Fair (1797), to Marta’s shocking betrayal at the hands of her “woke” friend Meg in the 2019 film Knives Out, to the events that have necessitated San Francisco’s recent introduction of the CAREN (Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies) Act, the complicity of female players in patriarchy has a long and troubling history. Concomitant to this complicity are other forms of privilege that allow some women to gain provisional access to safety and success under the confines of patriarchy. For example, the Twitter #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen, coined by Hood Feminism author Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) in 2013, pithily summarizes contemporary discourses surrounding the employment of white women’s perceived vulnerability and fragility to uphold systems of violence and oppression. Such maneuvers often rely on forms of policing and marginalization––such as involving law enforcement or propping up capitalist structures––revealing a disconcerting perpetuation of the very frameworks that disenfranchise certain women and femmes at the expense of protecting others with relative power.
This panel invites contributions that analyze media from any linguistic or cultural tradition that depict female figures whose actions serve to bolster patriarchal structures and/or destruct feminist movements. We especially welcome approaches that consider how anti-feminism and misogyny relate to and intersect with other forms of oppression, such as racism, ableism, anti-queer and anti-trans discrimination, and discrimination against religious minorities.